Steven Prieve saw a lot of interesting things in his 10 years of running a polling place in Madison. The 59-year-old retired repairman watched as groups of Hmong immigrants arrived with translators in tow. He witnessed droves of students vote in their first elections. And he helped many elderly take part in some of their last.
But despite the thousands of people he helped over the years, Prieve never witnessed someone voting twice or trying to vote under a fake name. “I just don’t see the fraud,” he said. “Not around here.”
This week the state Legislature will debate a controversial measure requiring voters to show a photo identification before they can cast a ballot. The legislation, which proponents say will prevent people from voting illegally, would give Wisconsin arguably the most restrictive voter identification law in the country.
Proponents say combating voter fraud, no matter how rare, is a good thing. And they say it is reasonable to expect the same level of scrutiny for voting as for cashing checks, renting cars or using credit cards.
But critics say the measure is a solution without a problem. They say fears of voter fraud are overblown, and photo ID laws discourage many people from voting, especially college students, seniors, minorities and people with disabilities.